Coinciding with the opening of school classes, a non-profit environmental health organization today launched a timely initiative to ensure school buses do not pose lead exposure risks to their young passengers.
As an integral part of the group's campaign for toxics-free children's environment, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to school bus operators to desist from using lead-containing yellow automotive paints for their bus fleet.
The group further asked concerned public utility vehicle owners, particularly jeepneys, pedicabs and tricycles that ferry children from their homes to schools, to also opt for lead-safe paints.
Previous paint studies conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition indicate dangerously high concentrations of lead in yellow and other brightly colored solvent-based paints.
''With the looming phase-out of lead-containing automotive paints and other industrial paints, we find it necessary to sound a clarion call for the use of lead-safe paints in the interior and exterior surfaces of all school service vehicles," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, imposes a six-year phase-out period for lead-containing paints for industrial applications, including car paints, which will end in December 2019.
“As their phase-out is still in progress, some automotive paints on store shelves may still contain lead-based pigments, driers and anti-corrosives and can be a health hazard, especially when lead painted surfaces have started to chip,” said Dizon.
“It is very important for school transportation operators to demand for lead-safe paints from paint dealers to safeguard workers’ and children’s health. Moreover, painting and repainting jobs must be done properly to prevent car paint dust from spreading,” he said.
To mainstream the use of unleaded paints in school buses and other public road transportation vehicles, the EcoWaste Coalition will request the Department of Transportation to stipulate the use of lead-safe automotive paints in the guidelines on the issuance of franchises for public transportation routes and services.
The EcoWaste Coalition will further reach out to schools and school bus service operators to obtain their support for the group’s advocacy for lead-safe paint.
According to the group, "young children are highly prone to lead exposure that can have a lifelong impact on their growth, development and future.”
“With their health and safety in mind, society must ensure that preventable sources of lead exposure such as lead-containing paints are controlled and eventually eliminated," the group insisted.
Information from Australia's Department of the Environment and Energy (DEE) about the dangers of lead in automotive paints has warned that “lead enters the body when fine particles of lead in dust are swallowed, or when fumes or dust from synthetic enamels and lacquers from aerosols are breathed in.”
“There have been cases of children suffering lead poisoning from playing in soil contaminated by auto paint dust,” the DEE fact sheet said.
http://www.environment.gov.au/ protection/chemicals- management/lead/lead-in-auto- paints